SA 150 Study Guide - Comprehensive Final Exam Guide - Canada, Sociology, Racism

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CHAPTER 2: SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS
Research methodology: the system of methods a researcher uses to gather data on a
particular question
-Sociology is a big discipline with researchers taking a variety of approaches. This can
be contentious.
-Qualitative and quantitative, can be combined
Doing Sociology
-No one way of doing sociological research, usually many methods are combined
-Should have many methodological tools at your disposal
-If methods are rigid: you will attempt to solve every problem in the same way\
Mills on intellectual Craftsmanship
-“Every (person) own methodologists! Methodologists! Get to work!
-Be rigorous, systematic but be your own thinker and methodologist
Positivism
-French philosopher August Comte: believed objective of scientific methods used to
study the natural sciences could be applied in the social sciences
-Comte implied that researchers didn’t have biases on the basis of gender, age or
ethnicity. Stressed objectivity
-The outsider was an expert
Insider VS Outsider Perspectives
-Much sociology’s history, the outsider objective perspective would produce the best
research
-Critical sociology stresses the unique role of the insider perspective. In this
perspective, the subject being studied provides information that comes from his or
her subjective experience.
Dorothy Smith
-Standpoint Theory
-Social characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation will
condition both the questions a sociologist asks and the answers she/he will receive
-Also how other people treat you
Michal Foccault
-Work on sexuality, prisons, and madness, showed how experts were given the
privileged position on determining which parts of the subjects accounts of their
experiences were true or false
-Power-knowledge: power produces knowledge and the fields in which knowledge is
exercised.
Practice Reflexive Sociology
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-Complete objectivity is impossible whenever one human being is studying another
one
-Think of yourself as a researcher and you position in the field. Be honest about who
you are and your relationship to the folks you are studying.
Qualitative: close examination of characteristics that cannot be counted or measured
Quantitative: close examination of social elements that can be counted or measured,
and are therefore used to generate statistics.
Methods sometimes at odds
Quantitative folks: dismiss qualitative folks as being too subjective, of having literary
ambitions, of not being scientific enough
Qualitative folks: dismiss quantitative folks as being number crunchers who have lost
sight or real experience or of what Mills called ‘the tang and the feel’ of social
experience
Ethnography: research method in which groups are studied through fieldwork
involves direct observation
attempts to study the entirety of a culture, whereas the case-study approach
focuses on individual cases
methods used to gather information can include:
participant observation (becoming a member of a group to experience the
group first hand)
Semi-structured interviews: informal, face-to-face interviews
Informants: insiders who help the research interpret information and
behaviour and assist the researcher in becoming accepted by the group
Case studies: research deign that takes as its subject a single case or few selected
examples of a social entity.
Often used to identify and describe best practices, strategies with a proven history o
achieving desired results
Narratives: stories people tell about themselves, their situations and others around
them
Can give a voice to people who do not usually get to speak directly in research
Voice: the expression of someone occupying a particular social location
Content analysis: studying a set of cultural artifacts (e.g. newspapers, albums, etc.)
by systematically counting them and then interpreting the themes they reflect
Example: Feminist theory seeks to reveal the gendered aspects of culture, such as
male-orientated approaches
Goffman’s gender advertisements (1976): classic analysis of commercial pictures
depicting gendered assumption in print media
Semiotics: study of signs and signifying practices. Science of signs
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Document Summary

Research methodology: the system of methods a researcher uses to gather data on a particular question. Sociology is a big discipline with researchers taking a variety of approaches. No one way of doing sociological research, usually many methods are combined. Should have many methodological tools at your disposal. If methods are rigid: you will attempt to solve every problem in the same way\ Be rigorous, systematic but be your own thinker and methodologist. French philosopher august comte: believed objective of scientific methods used to study the natural sciences could be applied in the social sciences. Comte implied that researchers didn"t have biases on the basis of gender, age or ethnicity. Much sociology"s history, the outsider objective perspective would produce the best research. Critical sociology stresses the unique role of the insider perspective. In this perspective, the subject being studied provides information that comes from his or her subjective experience.

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